Since Day One, we've made it a commitment that high-quality photography be one of the tenets of the Iron & Air brand. Over the past 42 issues, we have been fortunate enough to have worked with some of the greatest photographers in this industry and beyond. When we brought in Scott G Toepfer as guest editor of this issue, we agreed that we should celebrate as many photographers as we could — specifically, those who have played a role in building the foundation of Iron & Air. We asked many of them to share their favorite photo of the past year and explain why it is meaningful to them. The following pages are a collection of these images, accompanied by the voices of the photographers who made them. The images and words brought joy, pain, laughter, and hope, and we are excited to share them in this very special issue.
To me, motorcycles are a way to get away from day-to-day life and away from all the noise. They can carry you into nature where everything takes care of itself. This image reminds me of that. It was taken right before the entire world changed in March, 2020. The conditions weren’t ideal, and the news around the world was grim. We set out anyway, finding empty trails and beautiful, snow-dusted landscape. For that day on the trails, with just us and our motorcycles, everything made sense.
This has been a year like no other, where we have become afraid of crowds, yet yearn for human contact. It was this notion that inspired me to take my 1985 Austin Mini Mayfair and travel the furthest away I could get from the rest of the UK population: the most northern tip of the Shetland Islands. At the point this photo was taken, it was almost as if COVID-19 didn't exist. It was just me, my car, and 800 miles to get back home again.
What a year, folks! We really have to be brave and tenacious to stand up to the endless difficulties of recent months. And right now, when we're all stuck in our homes, scrolling through our Instagram feed, slumped on our couch, we're dreaming of post-COVID times. Today, the motorcycle world is at its worst; everything is falling apart. Passions give way to security and normalization of desires. Exit vintage motorcycles, these objects declared useless, dangerous, and polluting. They become vulgar junk heaps of iron in people's minds. Any object must be necessary and rational.
Fortunately, some rebels resist, hold on, and move on despite everything. Fortunately, some still dream in front of an old machine with a weathered look. Some still laugh at the wonderful absurdity of a 2,500cc engine from a Rocket 3. Some still vibrate in front of the innovative design of a piece of metal. And some still savor a beautiful magazine that talks about their passion — with passion. All is not screwed up, folks! Be rebels!
This is of Natalya (@missmurdercase). We met under a sketchy bridge I scouted outside of Long Beach, California. We had to create a little makeshift ramp to get the bike over the curb and then ride down the sand. I love the contrast between shadow and lightness and the dull, washed desert hues. Natalya is a single mother and a former Marine, which I respect deeply — and of course, she is gorgeous and covered in rad tattoos!
Eight years ago I met Max on the street in Greenwich Village, and we have been good friends ever since. A few minutes after this photo was taken Max broke a record, running over 215 miles per hour at Bonneville on a bike he built from scratch. We celebrated with tacos at the motel parking lot that night. At one point we found ourselves staring at the bike, both realizing that we had come a long way from that time in 2012.
Having lived a nomadic existence for the better part of two decades, I've been guilty of allowing some important relationships to slip. When normalcy shut down early this year, I received an unexpected call from my younger brother, inviting me to quarantine with him and his family in a mountain town above Los Angeles. Realizing I barely knew them, I accepted. I stayed for nearly four months, rebuilding relationships I didn't know I needed. This image was made on my Yashica T4 during the drive up to what would become one of the most important trips I've made.
I’m sitting here in my basement on a gloomy Pacific Northwest night right before Thanksgiving, 2020, during what has become Oregon’s second lockdown of the year. Looking through these images while listening to old, depressing Bing Crosby records is an unintended and appropriately nostalgic soundtrack for this submission. I took this image shortly before COVID-19 on a fun trip to the Oregon coast with the best of friends. Pictured here are two of the best: Kenny Wright and Casey Lynch on Kenny’s knucklehead, laughing it up. Man, what a great day! Just look at it. I want this image to not only remind us of the good times we have had, but also to remind us that better times are yet to come. Yeah, that’s right — 2020 has turned out to be one giant asshole of a year, but it’s not going to hold us down. Fuck you, 2020.
While shooting the Petit Le Mans for Acura with the fantastic crew at The Mighty Motor, I was tasked with shooting in the pits for the evening. It isn’t the easiest job, because, on top of being technically proficient with the camera, you also have to gain the trust of the team as they're doing their job to keep the car healthy. I absolutely love motion in photos, and I wanted to get as much of the whole car as possible without the pit crew being in the way, so I crouched down, cranked down my shutter speed to 1/13, and this popped out. I always enjoy a challenge, and on top of that, working with The Mighty Motor crew is half the reason I do these endurance races in the first place.
brandonlajoie.com | @brandon_lajoie
I find, for the most part, I miss just taking trips for the hell of it. This year has been a shitshow of confusion and unknowns. This trip was just that. I met up with Drew Smith (packing up a sleeping pad) and Jeff Johnson (ripping on my bike) in Colorado, and we ended up just wandering our way back to Utah over a week or so. We rode, climbed, and shot the shit — as well as ate shit a few times — for a few hundred miles, and as a photographer, I feel that’s when I take my best images.
In May, rapper Killer Mike stood at the podium in Atlanta and told America “Now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize.” The next week I was at his house shooting new press photos and talking about the times we’re living in. Mike and I’ve been friends awhile, and I always learn something new when we get together.stevewestphoto.com | @stevewestphotos